In spite of the government moving ‘freedom day’ from mid-June to mid-July, the organisers of the annual Richmond PIMS forum (29-30 June) managed to run a live event within the rules that enabled 103 adviser firms to meet with around 34 different supplier firms over two days.
About 10% of the advisers dialled in virtually but this was because they were having to self-isolate rather than as a conscious choice not to attend in person.
Those that did make the journey found the experience far more rewarding than attending via Zoom. A number commented to me that they picked up little nuggets of information in the corridors between meetings or at the bar that they would never have got at a virtual event.
What was particularly striking for me was how few women were in attendance. There were six in total, two of whom attended virtually. Having recently run a session with 30 female financial advice professionals (you can read the feature that appeared in Professional Adviser about this here), I found it disappointing to see such an underrepresentation of this important cohort of the profession.
From my meetings with advisers, I noticed some key themes. These included:
Growth v exiting:
A significant number of attendees mentioned they are thinking about retiring within 3-5 years. Some are considering internal succession plans and some expect to sell to a third party but have yet to get their business ready or identify a buyer.
Those who are not looking to exit are not finding growth an issue. Some mentioned they are getting multiple enquiries and referrals each month. Others had clear plans on how to grow by acquisition. However, many felt that they are growing too fast for their existing business infrastructure to cope.
Every firm I met was looking for efficiency gains and to streamline its business processes. The focus is on how they can grow in a scalable way, without “papering over the cracks with people”, ie not having to continually add more paraplanners & admin staff as they take on more clients.
While there is plenty of tech about which claims to solve adviser problems, I heard multiple complaints about the lack of connectivity between the different providers that advisers rely on to get their job done.
Most of the advisers I spoke with are seeing increased demand for ESG solutions but many are still at the knowledge-building stage. There was a lot of demand to see our white paper on the topic.
Many advisers are still picking funds themselves and using an advisory approach despite acknowledging the inefficiencies that this causes. The time required to get all clients to respond about proposed fund changes ranged from two weeks to 12 months!
A few advisers I spoke to are considering taking their own discretionary permissions but they were all wary of the increased regulatory burden that would involve.
Obviously, the point of me being at the event was to persuade advisers that their time is better spent on areas other than investment. Advisers are some of the busiest people I know and they get pulled in multiple different directions every day. Working in partnership with an investment manager that has the expertise, knowledge and permissions in place makes good sense.
If you’d like to find out more about how we help our partners to deliver better investment outcomes for their clients and to scale their business profitably, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.